There is no question that staging works. While staging a vacant home can be costly, staging an occupied home doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips for low-cost ways to stage your home to sell.

1. Focus on curb appeal.

The first thing a potential buyer sees when they arrive at your home is the outside. This is what we call “curb appeal,” meaning how appealing is the property from the street. Be sure to keep the landscaping in order (lawn mowed, bushes trimmed, walkway clean). Nothing makes a house look worse than a lawn overtaken by weeds or bushes that are so unruly they spill over onto the walkway.

An inexpensive way to improve you home’s initial impression is to plant colorful flowers. This can either be done in a flower bed, or even in pots near walkways or on the porch. Many homeowners discount the importance of the front porch. Big mistake! While their realtor is opening the lockbox to access the home, the potential buyers are left to look around at THE PORCH! Make sure the area is clean and fresh, with minimal, tasteful decorations and furniture.

If needed, power-washing and a fresh coat of paint on the front door are valuable and inexpensive fixes.

2. Start packing.

Buyers want to envision themselves in the home, and that is hard to do when it is filled with your personal photographs and belongings. Naturally, you still have to live in the home, but since you are moving anyway this is the perfect time to start packing.

Plan on taking down all family photographs. You also should plan to pack up any items that you will not need in the next 3 months. That includes clothes (you don’t want buyers questioning if the closets are too small), kitchen gadgets/small appliances, excessive knick-knacks, books, collections, and toys. This is truly a “less is more” scenario.

If possible, store items in a temporary storage unit. If that isn’t an option, stacking boxes against the wall in the garage will work.

3. Invest in some throw pillows.

Even the oldest of couches can be revived with some new pillows. They can be found inexpensively at Home Goods, Home Depot/Lowes, Walmart, Target, etc. Plan to purchase ones that you will use in your new home. You want to stick to solids or simple designs that will complement the room.

If you have an outdoor sitting area, a few coordinated pillows can make a big difference there as well!

4. Don’t confuse buyers with multi-purpose rooms.

Each room should be set up for it’s intended purpose. That means the dining room should not also have a desk in it. And, if at all possible, bedrooms should all be used as such.

5. The devil is in the details.

Go through each room and spend time making sure there are small accents of color to add interest. If your furniture is brown and the coffe table is brown and the rug is brown – well, you get the picture. Some splashes of color can really break up the monotony of a room.

Replace old shower curtains with new ones. Replace all bathroom towels with fluffy white ones, just for show, not for you to use until the house is sold :-). 

This is the time for a deep clean. I don’t just mean the usual cleaning the toilets or wiping down the counters. You need to clean doorknobs, light fixtures, blinds, baseboards, and cabinets (Old English can make them look new again) . Have the carpets and tile/grout professionally cleaned (if you are in the Austin area, hit me up for the name of my guy. He is truly the best!). Wash ALL the windows, inside and out. You can pay someone to come do it for you, or you can do it yourself, but you really do need to do it. Dirty windows are a big turn-off for buyers and you want them letting in all the light possible.

Fix all the little things that need fixing. Replace broken electric and switch plates. These are super cheap, but can really improve the look of the home. Fix any leaky faucets. Tighten loose toilet seats. Put WD-40 on squeaky doors. 

This one is super important – make sure ALL LIGHTBULBS are in working order. This is one I will never understand not following. It is the easiest thing in the world to do and lightbulbs are pretty inexpensive. A light, bright, clutter-free home is the goal.